The Jacobites Advance Down the River Forth

On 23rd July 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed on Eriskay Island. His arrival would signal another chance for the Jacobites to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne after the failed rebellion in 1715.

News of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s arrival would reach the government in early August. Despite being told to return to France by several sympathisers, he built up support and the rebellion marched to Perth on 4th September. At Perth, Bonnie Prince Charlie would claim the throne for his father and would then take Edinburgh unopposed on 17th September. 

The Stirling Town Council and Alloa Outport records held here at Stirling Archives give an insight into what steps were being taken locally against the new rebellion. Precautions were already being taken by Stirling Town Council in August 1745. An order was issued by them asking fisherman to lie their boats at Stirling Bridge to ‘prevent the rebels reaping any benefit of them’. In short, they hoped that a blockage would prevent any rebels using the River Forth to gain supplies and the transporting men.

On 19th September another order was sent from Robert Craigie, Lord Advocate, to Walter Grossett, Collector at Alloa, asking that all vessels of ‘whatever kind upon the North and South sides of the Firth from Stirling to Kinghorn to the harbours of Leith and Borristouness’. More so he continued by stating that if they if faced any resistance that ‘they were to us force to make the Order effectual’.

The rebels, however, succeeding in securing some supplies on the River Forth. A letter from John Erskine, Controller at Alloa Customs House, to Robert Craigie, Lord Advocate, notes that rebels had attacked the vessel ‘Fortrose’ near Higgin’s Neuk. Erskine writes that ‘they were dethroned by a great number of people who confined two tidewaiters (tidesmen)’.  In the attack, the rebels managed to get nine barrels of soap and 38 casks of spirits. The vessel was due to set sail for Norway.

As noted previously, the blockade of fishing boats at Stirling Bridge rebellion affected local fisherman in Stirling. A petition was sent to Stirling Town Council from Thomas Campbell and other local fisherman asking for compensation. They argued that they suffered a loss of earnings caused by the Jacobite advance towards Stirling. By being denied any fishing for twenty days, those who were allowed to fish above Stirling Bridge benefited in greater catch numbers. They asked if the Town Council were willing to give them ‘a sum as you shall think proper’.

CE67/1/2 – Consignment of soap and other goods taken by the Jacobites, 26 Jan 1746